Autism as Shadow

I was reading into Edward Whitmont (The Symbolic Quest) this afternoon, inspired to go there after listening to Bonnie Bright’s evocative conversation with Craig Chalquist. ( And I was fascinated by his discussion, in the first chapter, about autism.


After describing autism, as Jung did before him, as subjective, image-directed and associatively logical (as opposed to causally logical), he points out the strong cultural bias against this order of thinking. It’s a judgment, really, that expresses itself in the pathologizing of those whose reality is internally located. Both he and Jung (CW3 ¶37) point out that the doctors who make such proclamations base their idea of ‘normal’ on observation of severely disturbed psychology. Whitmont also notes that the ‘normal’ population adapts to external reality with a will-directed thinking that makes the “external world usable.” Well, I thought, we’ve seen the dire results of such ‘normal’ and exploitative thinking.


What I also read into this discussion is a commentary on the significant rise of autism in the children of today’s world. And it makes me wonder. Is it possible that our cultural emphasis on utilitarian and goal-driven thinking has birthed a shadowy problem-child? Have we inculcated, through public education and television for starters, such a one-dimensional way of being that it has constellated a reactive eruption from the unconscious of the repressed and so-called ‘inferior’ thinking?


I know this is simplistic, and I do not want to romanticize or diminish the scourge of autism in any way. I know there are many people who suffer with autism who live in a hell that has nothing to do with an introverted idyll. And I know that there may be many tangible and rational ‘causes’ of autism - some of which may also have to do with the choices we have made about how to be in the world. This is a complex issue, indeed.


It’s just a thought. . .